Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Data for research on Wales: What do you need?

The Welsh Government is currently undertaking a project to identify ways in which it can help to maximise the use of detailed survey and administrative data for research purposes. As part of this project we are seeking views on the data needs of researchers working on issues for which data for Wales is required.

If you have any feedback on the questions below – or any other comments on how to improve access to data for Wales or how to maximise the use of existing data for research  purposes please email Tanvi Desai on by Wednesday 4th April 2012. 
  • do you have any problems accessing the data you need for your work/research on Wales?
  • if you do, is this because
®    as far as you know the data you need do not exist?
®    the data do exist, but are not accessible?
®    the data exist, are accessible, but you do not have the necessary infrastructure (eg. sufficient processing, computing power to analyse data, adequate set up to safeguard sensitive data)
Please provide as much detail as possible on the following:
  • Description of data you believe do not exist;
  • Name and source of any datasets you have difficulty accessing;
  • The nature of the access difficulty (is it cost, timeliness, restrictions on the level of detail etc?);
  • Any infrastructure that could help your work whether you need more processing and storage space on IT systems, an area where sensitive data can be analysed securely (eg. a safe room), more information on available data etc.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Engaging with Retail: New opportunities for Masters' students to work with major companies

The ESRC is increasing its engagement with the retail sector, and one element of this is the opportunity for academics and Masters’ students to work with major companies such as Barclays, Boots, Co-operative, Dixons, John Lewis, Nationwide, Tesco, and Whitbread on projects which are important to the retail industry.

The initiative also provides a great way for both students and their supervisors to build links with major retail companies.  Working during the spring & summer, students will be eligible for a £500 award (for ESRC funded students in their Masters year of a 1+3) or entry for a £1,000 prize competition for the best dissertation (for non-ESRC funded students). Additional similar contributions are available from some of the participating retailers.

For further information about the scheme and the list of available projects please see the following link:

This initiative is part of a wider programme by the ESRC to facilitate communication between the social science research base and retail businesses, promoting knowledge exchange and encouraging greater collaboration:

Engaging with retail

Monday, 27 February 2012

New ESDS Government teaching dataset

ESDS Government has produced a new teaching dataset:

The English Housing Survey 2008-2009: Household Data Teaching Dataset,

The teaching dataset is a subset which has been subjected to certain simplifications and additions for the purpose of learning and teaching.

The main differences are:
·         the number of variables has been reduced
·         weighting has been simplified
·         a reduced codebook is provided

Datasets can be useful resources for teaching. You can use the datasets for hands-on exercises in methods courses such as questionnaire design or statistics. ESDS Government have created a number of teaching datasets for this purpose using the Labour Force Survey, British Crime Survey, Health Survey for England, General Household Survey and Expenditure and Food Survey. If you wish to use one of the teaching datasets or any of the ESDS Government datasets with your students as part of a taught course you should read the information on Teaching uses of data on the ESDS website at

Mixed methods and narrative research: resources for secondary data analysis from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study

Date: 6 March 2012
Location: Institute of Education, London

A few places are still available for a free workshop on mixed methods and narrative research that explores resources for secondary data analysis from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study, also known as the National Child Development Study.

The workshop, which will take place on 6 March 2012 at the Institute of Education in London, will look at how qualitative resources from the study can be used in tandem with the quantitative longitudinal data to carry out mixed methods research. However researchers may also be interested in the qualitative materials in isolation as rich resources for secondary analysis or as material to help inform and frame new data collection.

This is one of a series of events, organised by ESDS, in support of the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative. These events are designed for researchers who are not current users of these ESRC-funded data resources, and who wish to apply for grants under this Initiative. It is not suitable for students.

This course is free to attend but booking is essential. Cancellations must be received within 5 working days of the event, otherwise a cancellation fee of £25 will be charged.

Book now to avoid disappointment. See details and booking form at the link below.

Opinions and Lifestyle Survey user meeting

Wednesday 21 March 2012, 9.30am – 1pm
Royal Statistical Society, Errol Street, London, EC1Y 8LX

ESDS Government has organised this half-day Opinions and Lifestyle Survey user meeting, which will comprise a number of papers from users of the current ONS Opinions Survey and the General Lifestyle Survey. The user meeting will also provide users with valuable information from ONS on the content and methodology of the new Opinions and Lifestyle Survey that will be created in 2012 as a result of merging the ONS Opinions survey with some of the previous General Lifestyle Survey questions. For more information on this please see the ONS website at

The presentations include:

Investigating subjective well-being on the Opinions Survey
Lucy Tinkler, Office for National Statistics

Using the ONS Opinions Survey to describe trends and patterns in charitable giving
Joy Dobbs and Veronique Jochum, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Has inequality in disability-free life expectancy increased during the first decade of the 21st century?'
Andrew Yeap and Olugbenga Olatunde, Disability and Health Measurement, Office for National Statistics

To view the full programme and book a place for the user meeting please go to

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Royal Statistical Society's 2012 International Conference

Telford International Centre
3-6 September.

The conference organisers welcome submissions for contributed talks and posters are currently welcomed on any topic or area of interest related to statistics and the use of data.  The online submission system – together with information about the exact requirements - can be accessed via the conference website

The deadline for submissions is 30 March.

The broad streams for the conference have been announced as follows:
medical, clinical trials, epidemiology
public sector & policy evaluation
statistical methods & theory
environment & ecology
data science (including experimental design)
communication of statistical ideas
quality & process improvement
industry & commerce
emerging topics

Full details about the topics covered by each stream can be found on the conference website, however possible topics within the ‘Public sector & policy evaluation’ stream include:

National/Official Statistics
Performance measurement/monitoring
Data disclosure/linkage
Open Data
National well-being
Evidence-based policy
Health service statistics
Housing statistics
Income statistics
Population statistics
Transport statistics
Use of statistics for policy evaluation & service delivery in the public sector

Contributed talk presenters will be allocated 20 minute slots in parallel contributed sessions for their presentations. Meanwhile posters will be displayed in the main exhibition area where all refreshments will be served.

Submissions from statisticians and users of statistics in the early stages of their careers are positively encouraged.

The following plenary speakers have been confirmed for the conference: Hal Varian (Google), Martine Durand (OECD) and David Hand (Imperial College).

Confirmed invited sessions include:   Making the most of the 2011 Census outputs for England & Wales, Measuring National Well-Being, Ageing in the 21st Century, Inequality in the UK, Methodology for Longitudinal Studies and ‘Big Data’ Challenges.

Further information about the speakers and the invited session topics can be found on the conference website